THE GHOST IN THE INVISIBLE BIKINI
1966/Director: Don Weis/Writers: Louis M. Heyward, Elwood Ullman
Cast: Boris Karloff, Basil Rathbone, Susan Hart, Tommy Kirk, Deborah Walley, Quinn O'Hara, Harvey Lembeck, Nancy Sinatra, Jesse White
By the time the 7th and last of the AIP beach party movies, Ghost in the Invisible Bikini, came out in 1967 the films had lost the charm that made them so much fun in the early 60’s. But the world was changing and The Beatles were dropping acid now and Sgt. Pepper was a year away as were bands like The Doors, Jimi Hendrix and Pink Floyd. Sounds by bands like The Bobby Fuller Four just was not what “the kids” were into anymore. In fact AIP itself was about to shift gears big time and begin their drug and biker exploitation films of the late 60’s and early 70’s in order to keep up with the times. What was cool about the beach party films, while they lasted, is that really seemed to reflect a time that never really existed. I mean certainly there were surfers and some great surf and hotrod music from the early to mid 60’s. But the whole Annette Funicello and Frankie Avalon world of sexless love and innocent, sugary pop songs sang on beaches at sunset by “teenagers” on perennial spring break from some life we never see into possessed an almost Wizard of OZ quality that simply never seemed real. Even as a gullible kid I just never believed there was a world like this out there somewhere and that I could be a part of it. Later when I heard The Door’s Riders on the Storm and Led Zeppelin’s The Immigrant Song I knew there was some kind of world waiting for me, but not one where I would croon to Deborah Walley and when she batted her doe-like eyes at me and I knew we would never have sex but that was okay because in our world there was no sex really, barely even kissing, and that was just groovy. And I could be like thirty years old and still be an irresponsible teenager with nothing to do but surf and act goofy to get the attention of all the babes in bikinis. Well that world had to end. People have to reproduce and AIP had to sell movie tickets. Ghost in the Invisible Bikini is in no way a terrible note to end the film series on but it is obvious the gimmick had run its course by then.
The film appears as a DVD MGM Midnite-Movie double feature with the utterly forgettable Ghost of Drag Strip Hollow but it would seem to be a logical pairing. Like I said earlier this is not a bad note to end the AIP beach party films on. If they had gone one more who knows how dreadful that would have turned out. It was time to put the sunny beaches and campy love songs behind and it was done in this film where not a beach is to be seen but there are still plenty of curvy bikini girls ready to do the twist or watusi at the drop of a hat, or turntable stylus. The biker and LSD films by AIP would start coming out within a year and lets be honest, those were really some entertaining films, much more so than the beach party ones in my opinion. And yet these little movies have a place too and if you grew up on them on Saturday afternoons they may mean something more to you than to someone who grew up on cable TV and DVD stores. There was a time when this stuff was it baby. The Mighty Sons of Hercules. Tarzan. John Wayne and Roy Rogers. And Beach Blanket Bingo. You either watched ‘”the thrill of victory… the agony of defeat” on Wide World of Sports or Marlon Perkin’s wrestle sedated boa constrictors for Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom. You could not be choosy.